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Mobile hopes to reduce traffic congestion in downtown with its new “Smart City Project,” unveiled Thursday.

Thirteen traffic lights along Government Street, up to Broad Street, are now connected to the Traffic Management Center (TMC) at Wallace Tunnel, run by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).

ALDOT monitors the traffic in real time and adjusts the light timing as needed. In addition, the lights have different timing cycles depending on the time of day, in order to decrease congestion at peak times.

Through the use of this program, which has been running since late April, traffic delays have decreased by 21% overall, and 26% in the evening, according to Jeremy Borden, a transportation engineer with ALDOT.

And as construction of a new Bayway begins, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson says he hopes that the program will help with congestion coming from the Causeway.

“Prior to completion of the bridge, the signalization that exists at the outfeed of Austal going back to the east side of the Bankhead Tunnel, it’s going to become more crucial that we have the right flow of traffic there,” Stimpson said during the unveiling. “Being able to monitor that on the spot will be hugely important, because there will be additional pressure put on the Causeway during construction.”

While these traffic signal improvements will help reduce congestion somewhat, Stimpson noted that the I-10 improvements and construction of the new Bayway will have a much greater impact on traffic.

The project required the installation of new traffic signal boxes, underground fiberoptic cables to synchronize the lights and cameras to monitor traffic. In addition to those upgrades, engineers also installed backup batteries in the system to protect against power outages, which Stimpson noted was especially important in the wake of a hurricane. The system will remain online in the event of a storm, Borden said.

The corridor is monitored around the clock by traffic engineers. If they see a delay, the engineers can deploy a different light timing plan within one to two minutes. Stimpson also said that the program makes downtown more walkable, as the pedestrian crosswalk buttons on traffic lights are now integrated into the system. If a pedestrian hits the button, the system will recognize it and adjust the timing of the light.

The project cost roughly $1.3 million, which ALDOT says will be recouped by the estimated time and gas saved from fewer traffic delays, as well as maintenance savings. Funding came from Mobile’s capital improvement program, a state grant to Mobile’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, a state highway grant and contributions from ALDOT.

The project took roughly three and a half years to complete, due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the current Broad Street construction project. Mardi Gras also caused a brief delay, though Borden said ALDOT also tested the program during Mardi Gras as well.

Downtown isn’t the only area of the city where this system is being implemented: The traffic lights on Airport Boulevard between Sage Avenue and Azalea Road have been upgraded, and the city is looking to expand the upgrades all the way to Cody Boulevard. That project is expected to be completed sometime in 2023, a spokesperson for the city said.

In addition, the city is hoping to upgrade all of the traffic signals in Council Districts 4 and 6, as City Council members Ben Reynolds and Scott Jones have allocated funds to the project.

In West Mobile, ALDOT is working on upgrading all of the traffic lights on Schillinger Road, working with both the city of Mobile and the city of Semmes. That is expected to be completed in the fall.

Borden says ALDOT is eventually planning to connect more traffic signals across Mobile and Baldwin counties to the system.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Margaret Kates, al.com

Quelle/Source: msn, 15.08.2022

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